Thursday, December 20, 2007
I am facing the realization that, if I want, I never have to come back to this place. I can live where I want, with who I want. And in that, I feel that I can be whoever I want, too.
When I think about what I want my life to look like, I think about playing paintball through high school. I remember what it feels like to crash at 3 AM to wake up at 6, drive for a couple hours in my pajamas and a hoodie, and show up to some backwater field and play my heart out. Its the same feeling I get when I wake up at 4 AM to catch a ride to the airport, going to some place in the middle of nowhere. Its a feeling in my chest and my head. It's a mix of exhaustion and excitement and realization of unpredictability. I want my life to be full of these moments, moments in which I don't know where I'm going to sleep that night, or what I'm going to have to do tomorrow.
I have a craving for the new, the unexpected. Leaving my parents basement is my first step toward the life I want to live. It's been 18 long years, and I feel prepared. I know what I want.
Goodbye, bedroom. Goodbye, Mom and Dad. I don't know where I am going, but I know that I want my life to be full of those moments of exhaustion, excitement and and realization of unpredictability. Sometimes, it sucks to grow up.
But today, it doesn't.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I stopped going to The Big Church around 4 months ago or something. You know this.
I don't call myself a Christian anymore. I hate hypocrisy more than anything, and I refuse to call myself something that I am not. The fact of the matter is, I tried for my entire life to be the person the bible and The Big Church said I needed to be. I wanted to be pure; I wanted to be a servant. I wanted to be righteous. But I wasn't good at it. For as long as I can remember, I have never felt like I was doing a good enough job. I struggled with pornography and self-image and grades for all of middle school and high school. I wanted to try drugs; I wanted to drink; I wanted to have sex. And I knew that was wrong. But I was never able to push those things out of my head. And thus, I was not a God-Honoring person.
And more than anything, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I knew that the church said I was part of their family, and my friends at The Big Church and I always called ourselves "brothers". But I always felt like I was just being tolerated by everybody. That it was all some sort of facade. And since I didn't know how to define myself in Christ or in who I wanted to be, I barely tolerated myself as well. I always thought that was my fault.
The I left. I left church, I left Jesus, and I waited to see what my "family" would say. You know what they've said?
Nothing. I haven't heard a word from anyone but a few of my very close friends. Pastor Intern guy talks to me, and I think Worship Leader Guy sent an email. But no one else from my dearly beloved "family" has really spoken to me.
I know that some of you have something to say. Pastor Guy, I know that you have something to say.
Why on earth haven't you said it? Why haven't any of you said anything? Part of the reason I left was because I wanted to know if anyone in my "family" actually cared about me as a person. And no one has said a word.
I suppose that I, what with my pot-smoking sex-having pinko-commie-intellectual ways have no moral ground on which to judge anyone. And I never really had that moral ground, anyway. But isn't that silence against what you believe? It seems that I was taught to chase after people exactly like me. I was taught to be a light to people who needed Jesus and that God put in me in their lives so that he could use me to get to them.
But no one's come after me, Pastor Guy. Because I left The Big Church, does this pursuit exclude me?
I guess I just wanted to hear something. I want to hear that you're angry or disappointed or sad or something. The Big Chuch must have an opinion.
Why doesn't anyone care? Why are you silent?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I just took my last final. I expect a D, because I didn't know my stuff. Hopefully, my midterm grades will balance out my grade in the class.
Throughout the term I have constantly asked myself why in the world I'm going to college in the first place. I really wanted to come here; this is the culmination of every hope and dream I've had for the last 4 to 5 years. I was waiting to get out of high school get on to "real education", where I imagined that everything I didn't like about school would somehow magically change.
It turned out to be a sham. The only difference is that I paid out my life savings for this. Now I'm broke, jobless, and frustrated. It's lucky for me I'm not a homeless dropout too; my dad is graciously paying my rent for a term down here in the dorms come January, and he's getting my tuition too. Good thing, seeing as I have about $350 to my name and no source of income.
It hasn't been all bad, I guess. My writing class was cool. Right now, I'm trying to get into a hard writing class for next term, and I really hope I do. It seems to be the shining light at the end of the dark, dank academic tunnel of doom that I registered for. I'm taking class I know I'm not going to like. I know they're gonna bore the crud out of me. Why am I taking them again?
I don't know. I really don't know. Have no clue. I'm taking 18 credits, and out of those 18, only 4 are ones I actually want to take. What is wrong with me?
I know I'm kinda being a whiner right now, but the rest of my life is kinda shitty too! What the hell? The friends I had in high school are now miles away, and many of them have all but forgotten me at this point. A few still call, and I'm thankful for that. But it's kind of disheartening to think that they all forgot me that quickly.
And meeting people here has been hard. Not living here means that whenever I am here, I hang out with my girlfriend. I simply don't have much else of a place to go. And dating has been just a mess for me. I'm so inwardly conflicted, that I can't enjoy it. I want to be single, but I want to be with someone. I feel like I need to have someone in my life, but at the same time I know I don't. What the hell? Why is this so complicated?
The sad thing is, I know that many, many people I know are going through this exact same thing. Everybody is fucked up at the moment. And that doesn't make sense to me. Why would we volunteer for this?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I honestly can say I have never been this tired in my entire life. I'm tired of everything.
I'm tired learning things.
I'm tired of writing.
I'm tired of paying for classes I don't want to take.
I'm tired of commuting on a bus for 2 hours every day.
I'm tired of asking myself what I'm doing here.
I'm tired of imagining a future.
I've run out of ideas.
I've run out of dreams.
I'm running out of time.
I'm running from myself.
I'm so tired of people.
I'm tired of girls.
I'm tired of being a feeling being that has to work through emotions. I want to be a robot.
I'm tired of not wanting to wake up in the morning.
I'm tired of smoking.
I'm tired of having a constant headache.
I'm tired of late labs.
I'm tired of my girlfriend's sister.
I'm tired of people being petty and stupid. I hate stupid people.
I'm tired of being disconnected from my college.
I'm tired of being alone, and having so many acquaintances and not many friends.
I'm tired of feeling dumb.
I'm tired of classes that make me feel like I'm in high school again.
I almost want to give up. I know I won't, and I know that moving here to campus will make a difference. I know that I can pick better classes. I know I can get more sleep. I know that I can make more friends. I know it's only two more weeks.
But I still feel so very, very tired. I can't cry, I can't collapse, I can't anything. I'm not sad or mad or even frustrated. I'm just exhausted.
Someone, please tell me that there's a purpose to this. I need someone to tell me again that I'm smart and funny and that I'm going to suceed. That my dreams can come true.
Someone, please tell me.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
“Fuck, dude. We are royally fucked.”
“Stop saying that. If you say that, it’ll be true. And we don’t want it to be true.”
“I’m just saying. We’re fucked.” I jiggled the pick in the lock a little bit. The third pin snapped back down again. Damn.
The trick to picking locks is to not think about it very much. All the books say you need to visualize the lock, to picture the pins in order from front to back as if the doorknob was made of glass. Then you’re supposed to solve it from front to back, starting with the first pin and moving along in order to the back pin. When I was learning to pick locks I used to do it this way; I spent hours painstakingly attempting to solve the lock the correct way. These endeavors never fared well for the locks, because eventually I would just grab a hammer and smash the damn thing until it opened. I’ve never been a very patient person.
“God, would you hurry up and open the fucking door already, man?”
“It would help if you’d shut the fuck up.” I felt two clicks, and at once the torsion wrench gave way. I let Smith through the door first.
“Ok. Good. Let’s hurry up,” he said.
We made our way down the corridor quietly, to room 418. We picked room 418 after observing this corridor for the past 3 days. This particular corridor was the boy’s wing on the fourth floor of this particular dormitory hall. Smith had hidden a small camera in the ceiling vent, and we watched for 3 days. We watched the residents arrive, and we watched them leave. We listened to their passing words. The guy in 418 was large, and he seemed to be a violent sort of person, the kind who likes to talk fondly about various firearms, and what he would do to “those damn Mexicans” if said firearms were in his possession. But, in truth, any of those dorm rooms would have been an adequate target; guilt becomes irrelevant when everyone is guilty. I really picked that room because I like the number eighteen.
I handed Smith the black bag that I had over my shoulder, and he hurriedly began to empty its contents onto the floor. I thoroughly enjoy watching Smith work with electrical things. His hands operate with a certain swiftness and assuredness; he seems to know exactly what he is doing, even if he does not. Before long, Smith’s device was assembled. I went to work on the door to room 418.
“Are you sure about this, man? I mean, we could get into deep shit for this.”
“It’s too late to be unsure now. Is it ready to go?”
“Of course it’s fucking ready. Just open the door.” I felt the last click, and the torsion wrench again turned. I removed my tools from the lock, and with my eyes asked Smith if he was ready. He nodded.
In one movement, Smith and I together pushed the door into room 418. Smith hit the switch on his device, and threw it into the room with unnecessary force. We then ran the fuck away.
I later heard that it was 3 weeks before room 418 was inhabitable again, and the inhabitant of this room was seeking psychiatric therapy. When this news was delivered to me, I felt like I should smirk, but I didn’t. Instead of satisfaction, I felt nothing, if for just a small twinge of grief, like a father who has to punish his child. I then told myself that I had no choice but to play my role.
And it seems that everywhere I go, there’s another fucking lock to pick.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I was a baby once. I crawled and drooled and pooped and made funny noises and chewed on things. That was the beginning of things.
And time went by and before anyone knew it, I was a kid. We all were kids, all of a sudden. I was very concerned with things like recess and playstation and cookies and grandma's house. I waited all year for summer and day camp, and knew that my mom would always be at home with peanut butter and jelly waiting for me after school.
And more time went by, and I was a "young man". I never really understood what it meant to be a young man. I took it to mean that everyone expects you to grow up but they know you're not going to. It's like they set themselves up to be disappointed. All of a sudden there was long division and algebra and book reports and essays and lots and lots of homework. Who you sat with at lunch was a big deal. There was lots of sports and brand name t-shirts, a lot of boyfriends and girlfriends. And no one really cared about each other anymore.
The "young man" stage quickly turned into "ok, time to grow up now". Nothing was ever really different from being a young man, except there was more of everything. There was more homework, more papers, more books to read and presentations to give. There was more sports and cliques and boyfriends and girlfriends, all of them more places I didn't fit.
"time to grow up" turned into "grow the fuck up already." I ditched a lot of school to go play hackey sack with all the kids who are going to change the world someday, but at the time they smoked a lot of weed instead.
And now I've grown up, I guess. Somehow, I got to college. I work all day and save my money. I have a "plan for my life," whatever that means. My parents say they're proud of me. They say I'm going to do great at school, and that I'll do great at my job. I don't know if that matters to me. I do what I do because I want to. Somehow that makes it more rebellious, I suppose.
I want my transition into "grown up" to be abrupt. I know many people I've grown up with who are lingering around their pasts. They're going to college in packs, or staying at home. I cannot understand them. We grew the fuck up already, right? Just as we had to leave the ground and learn to walk, or leave the playground to learn long division, we have to ditch our pasts now. Right?
We grew the fuck up already. Just like our parents and teachers and culture told us we had to. It's time for us to leave them in the dust. I know I am.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I was sitting in a small, ramshackle room on the second floor of a rented building. Old wobbly school chairs lined the four plaster walls, and the floor creaked. Around me were 17 or 18 Albanian villagers and one pasty white engineer from San Diego; this was the Albanians' church, and the pasty engineer was Eric, my less-than-fluent translator.
Church service had started, and we had sung a few praise songs to an old, out-of-tune guitar and 17 or 18 pairs of off-beat clapping hands. We were sitting down listening to the pastor - a 30-something man with a weary but passionate look about him - speak from 1st Peter, when a man came in to the service late. He walked with this apologetic stoop; he seemed as if he wasn't sure if he had walked into the right place. The only open chair was beside me, and he sat down. Eric had pulled a stack of Albanian New Testaments out of his bag, and had began passing them around. I handed one to the man.
He took the bible, which I had handed to him upside-down, and opened it. He looked at it for a moment, closed it slowly, and handed it back to me with the same apologetic expression he had on when he walked in. I realized he couldn't read what I had given to him. I felt as small as an ant. And I looked directly into his eyes.
These eyes were unlike any eyes I had ever seen. Most people have eyes that are blue, or brown, or green. Their eyes have depth, and this depth has a bottom. Depending on the person, eyes can be bright or sullen, kind or calloused. This man's eyes were none of these things.
The core of his eyes were as ones forged of frigid, harsh steel, embedded in a spehere of fractured ice. Looking at them was like staring into an arctic sun, so utterly cold. I could see so many years of suffering in those eyes, and so much shattered hope. They were filled with these things, and they were bottomless.
My team returned to this village a couple days later, and this man came and found us. He wanted some of us to come to his house and pray for his mother. I wanted to come.
His house was smaller than my living room. His mother, wife, and two small daughters lived in this house, and they were there when we arrived. His mother was very, very old, and her sight and hearing had all but gone from her. His wife's teeth were askew, and she was completely deaf. When she communicated, she used violent hand motions and made puffing sounds with her mouth. I wasn't sure whether she was telling us a story about war and protest, or demonstrating a recipe for bread.
The man began talking with us about his life and family. He brought out a small photo album with pictures of his extended family, and his wedding. (everybody in Albania does this.) He began to tell us about how his marriage had been difficult, because of the challenges communicating with his deaf wife presented. He also said that he would never trade it, because even though it is so very hard, he loves her.
He talked about his daughters with a smile, telling us that both of them can hear perfectly. His daughters are beautiful, he says, and he is right. One of them is about six years old, and sits on his lap. The other is newborn, and is sleeping in the back room, which is about the size of an American walk in closet. He then speaks of his mother with a grim and joyless look on his face; she is dying, he says. His mother continues to sit beside him, smiling and talking to herself.
We gather around and pray for his family. I keep my eyes open, and I look at this man. His head is bowed, his knotted hands clasped together. I shed a tear for him.
And though this man may have forgotten me already, I will never, ever forget him. His eyes will pierce my memory, those eyes of steel and cold, cold ice.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
That being said, I am freaked out by this new documentary, Jesus Camp.
The synopsis, as far as i can tell from clips off YouTube (the dvd is being downloaded as I speak), is that these guys followed a christian kids camp in Colorado around for a while. It's hosted by this evangelical mega-church, and the clips i'm seeing remind me of Hitler Youth. 10 year olds are spouting words that do not belong in their mouths, talking about fighting god's enemies, how god spoke to them and told them to go talk to random people about Jesus, and a whole bunch of stuff that seems really really creepy. I understand the bias of the people who shot and edited this film, but it still quite unnerves me.
I am a youth leader. Could this sort of thing happen at my church?